Book Review: A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers

Many of you will be familiar with Michael Burer’s A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Covering all words that occur 50x or less in canonical order, it has assisted many students of the Greek New Testament.

Following in the same vein, Daniel B. Wallace along with Brittany C. Burnette and Terri Darby Moore, have produced an extremely helpful work in the Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Father’s. The Apostolic Fathers (AF) are seeing a new wave of interest among scholar’s today. Larry Hurtado notes in a recent article that many scholar’s are releasing new publications concerning the AF, including Wallace’s new work. This area of study is fruitful both for students of the New Testament and students of Early Christianity. Hurtado continues by saying these texts include some of the earliest most important and fascinating texts from ancient Christian circle.” The corpus provides insights into the first interpretations of Holy Scripture, use of other early writings, agrapha, and customs and practices of the earliest Christians.

The Reader

A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers covers all words that occur 30x or less in the Greek New Testament (GNT). By choosing to compare the frequency to the GNT and not the AF corpus it allows students of the New Testament an easier transition to begin reading the AF in the original Greek. This is arguably the most important aspect of the reader’s lexicon. Students will be able to approach the original text immediately with their current vocabularly set in confidence.

The ordering of the words follows Michael Holmes’s third edition of the Apostolic Fathers. The lexical form of the word along with a definition and frequence of occurences (within the AF corpus, individual author, and individual verse). The glosses are determined in the following order: BDAG, Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon, LSJ, J.B. Lightfoot’s translation of the Apostolic Fathers, and Michael Holmes’s text[1] .

Example from Reade

Taken from p. 12

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. Currently, there is no other work that fills this need. The most comparable works are the diglots by Erhman (Vol 1. and Vol. 2) and Holmes. These are helpful but do not assist students in reading the orginal in a natural manner. With a diglot one is dependent on a complete English translation for vocabularly, which hinders students from making exegetical and translational decisions for themselves. Other works that are similar are Rodney Decker’s Koine Greek Reader and Rodney Whitaker’s A Patristic Reader. Both are these resources are helpful in what they are trying to accomplish, an aid to assist students in learning Greek other than that at the New Testament. They cover a selection of the AF corpus but are not meant to be comprehensive.


I highly recommend this to any student of the New Testament or Early Christianity. The AF is an enriching corpus that will be serve as an aid for students. Greek students will also be able to improve their Greek knowledge by working through unfamiliar territory with different vocabularly and syntax. Daniel Wallace, Brittany C. Burnette, and Terri Darby Moore are to be commended on this excellent volume.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for this free review copy.

  1. Note that this only covers the Greek text. There are parts of some text that are only extant in other various languages such as Latin.  ↩︎

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January 17, 2014